Once you have finished writing all the chapters of your doctoral thesis, you are left with the crucial task of writing the conclusion. An interesting conclusion chapter is of utmost importance since it contains the findings, outcomes, and recommendations of your research. Typically, the conclusion of a doctoral dissertation should be about fifteen pages in length, but different universities may have different guidelines regarding its length and format. However, the structure of the conclusion remains more or less the same across the globe. Here is a quick guide on how to structure the concluding chapter of your doctoral dissertation:
Like any other chapter of your thesis, the conclusion should also have an introduction. In this section, you have to remind your readers of the thesis statement which formed the foundation of your research. The research questions you set forth at the beginning of your thesis, necessity of such a research, context and background, importance of the topic, relevance of methodology, etc. should also be expressed succinctly in the introductory paragraphs of the concluding chapter. Similarly, it should offer readers a broad map of how the rest of the chapter is going to proceed.
Your research must have resulted in a number of empirical findings with regard to each research question you proposed to answer. You should synthesize such findings and demonstrate how they address your questions and objectives. This involves more than mere summarizing; you need to clearly demonstrate how these findings elucidate and support your central arguments and research questions. If you have more than one research question or more than one part to a question, each question/part should be synthesized in this manner using relevant empirical findings.
A good doctoral dissertation draws its strength from the theoretical implications of the research findings. The next section of your conclusion should express the larger theoretical implications of your research and its contributions to the existing body of scholarship. Since you formed your research questions based on certain gaps in the existing literature, it is important that you mention how your work contributes to it. Here you can also point out how your work could impact further researches in the area of study. However, it is important to note that this section shouldn't become a mere boasting of your thesis' worth. You, on the other hand, should offer an informed appraisal of your work without hiding its limitations.
This section is not a mandatory one as certain types of research don't necessarily have significant policy implications. But if your research has any relevance with regard to policy making, such findings should be synthesized with appropriate examples. Make a mention of the theoretical understanding which formed the basis of your research, and demonstrate how your work could impact further debates in the field, especially with regard to future practices.
In this section, you are expected to include your recommendations for future actions in the field of study; you can also indicate any speculations you have on future trends. Research is an ongoing process and it is assumed that you would want to explore the field further and investigate certain questions in near future. You can give an outline for such endeavors you deem worthwhile and offer a short description for each point. The importance of this section is that it shows you have delved deep into the research area.
Before summing up your conclusion, it is important to mention the limitations of your study. Every research will have certain limitations due to its methodology, methods used for sampling, demographic focus, nature of data, analytical framework, etc. Such limitations should be pointed out, but you should take special care to end this section on a positive note.
Finally, summarize the points you expressed in the concluding chapter. Instead of focusing on each and every point, you can emphasize on how your research helped to offer a different view on what has been considered a norm so far. These are the final words your examiners will read, so make sure that you offer them a graceful exit.
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